4 Tips to Improve Adoption of Self-Service Automation

4 Tips to Improve Adoption of Self-Service Automation

Many individuals (and even entire teams) mistakenly believe that self-service IT is something that threatens their livelihood. To the contrary, providing employees the control over their technology usage can make the job of IT much easier and more efficient. In other words, it’s a good thing, not something to fear and resist. So, how can you make the case for self-service intelligent automation, particularly given the current push to work-from-home due to COVID-19?

Focus on the needs of the end-user.

The first part of the process involves identifying what needs end-users face that the IT department is responsible for fulfilling. This could include everything from simple password resets to entire user setups for new employees. As these needs are identified, they should be built out into what’s known as a self-service IT portfolio. The second part of the process involves determining the actions required in order to deliver these services. This will make up the service catalog.

Standardize and assign value.

With self-service automation, it’s important to ensure that any and all services and workflows being automated are as standardized as possible. Otherwise, you could end up automating broken processes, which will not only not help but could actually harm your overall business operations. It’s also important to assign a clear price/performance to each item in your service portfolio and catalog. This provides insight into the true value of the self-service IT activities.

Sell the benefits to each group.

If you want everyone – from the end-users to the IT team – to jump on the intelligent automation bandwagon, you have to demonstrate the actual benefits each group will achieve as a result. For instance, show employees how much more quickly they can get their needs taken care of without having to rely on someone from the help desk. At the same time, show IT personnel the time and effort they’ll be saving by eliminating these routine, repetitive tasks from their workload.

Start small and work from there.

You can’t expect a huge change such as self-service IT adoption to happen overnight. The process will take time and involve researching various automation platforms to determine which one best suits the particular needs of your business and then testing that tool before rolling out a full implementation. Start by automating one small area, such as password resets, and then work from there. Your service portfolio and catalog can provide the blueprint of what areas to automate in which order.

If you’re thinking of adopting intelligent automation to create a more consumer-style, self-service IT environment for your employees, it’s important to recognize that these things take time. Following the steps listed above can make the process go much more smoothly and help achieve the buy-in and support needed from others across the organization.

Ready to try intelligent, self-service automation? Click here to start your free trial.

Addressing the New Social Distancing Rules as Businesses Re-Open

Over the past several weeks, as organizations were forced to shut down due to concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak, some serious weaknesses have been exposed. First, many quickly discovered how drastically unprepared they were for disaster response.

According to a recent survey conducted by AvidXchange, a shocking 40% of organizations polled did not have business continuity plans in place. And despite the fact that 60% of those surveyed did have a continuity plan in place, only 37% of them actually have the technology necessary to enable employees to work remotely as part of their strategy. Furthermore, only a mere 19% said their workforce has the appropriate technology to be able to work from home.

Then there was the challenge of offshore IT support. In particular, many organizations that rely heavily on MSPs for their IT management recently discovered that such an arrangement isn’t always viable. For instance, the entire country of India – where a massive number of these MSPs are located – was ordered to lock down for several weeks. Unfortunately, working from home there is a rarity, which left the reliant businesses in quite a bind.

In recent weeks, we’ve discussed the various ways that intelligent automation could address these issues. For example, we talked about how automation could help minimize and possibly even prevent business disruption when transitioning to a work-from-home setup, as well as which factors to consider when making this change. We also talked about how automation could help companies for which remote work wasn’t an option, as well as how it could be an insurance policy for those relying on offshore MSP arrangements.

Now, as the world slowly but surely prepares to reopen, there has come to light a new challenge. Many businesses are now quickly coming to the realization that they’re simply not prepared to respond to the new social distancing rules that will inevitably be in place for the foreseeable future.

For larger enterprises, the first wave of reopening will likely involve a return to work of only a portion of employees. After all, we can’t have droves of workers filing in, sitting in cubicles located just inches from one another. But how will companies fare on only a segment of their workforce. Yes, some can continue working remotely, but what about organizations that weren’t able to facilitate such an arrangement? How can they be expected to operate at full capacity with only a small percentage of their people?

Once again, we are seeing a point at which humans and robots are coming together to work in tandem. Intelligent automation can be brought in to fill in the gaps, be it executing complex IT processes and workflows, monitoring systems 24/7 to prevent and address incidents, or delivering instant self-service IT support – all without the need for human agents. This will support just about any arrangement a company has, whether it’s a partial remote/on premise setup, or operating on a skeleton crew during the first wave.

Most importantly, technology can (and should) be used to help manage those processes and workflows that are most critical to business continuity. The aforementioned study revealed that there is a direct correlation between the existing gap in technology preparedness and the mission-critical processes that are necessary to keep businesses operating. Intelligent automation is a surprisingly simple and affordable solution to these glaring needs. And 85% of those surveyed agree that this is something they need to invest in.

The fact is, while the coronavirus situation happens to be at the forefront, it’s really only one of the many serious risks organizations today face. Beyond health crises, there are any number of disasters that could potentially knock a business off course, whether it be something physical, like a fire or flood, or something digital, like a cyber-attack. Having a solid plan for backup and recovery – one that leans heavily on innovative technology – is the key to survival.

By leveraging intelligent automation, you can fortify your organization and make it more resilient so that no matter the external circumstances, you’ll no longer be vulnerable to them. Best of all, getting started with automation is quick and easy. Simply download your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG.

Pandemic-Proof Your Service Desk with Automation for MS-Teams

Author: Guy Nadivi

I’m going to assume that just about everyone reading this blog post is affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 7th, 2020, the New York Times reported that at least 316 million Americans — about 95% of the country — have been told to stay home for at least the next few weeks, and likely longer. That’s forced a lot of organizations to very rapidly change the way they work, and especially for IT, the way they deliver services to an organization’s end users, customers, and partners.

One platform being chosen increasingly more often to deliver those services is Microsoft Teams. When you add automation to MS-Teams, you can create a pandemic-proof way to empower your end users and others with self-service, effectively turning MS-Teams into a virtual service desk operator that’s available 24x7x365

Adding a virtual service desk operator should be high on the list of priorities for IT Operations teams these days, because anecdotal evidence suggests that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, their workloads have mostly gone up, and in many cases, way up.

One thing likely to have caused workloads to spike upwards, of course, is the recent & very rapid switchover to remote working.

Numerous government & health officials have encouraged organizations to let their employees work from home, wherever possible, as a way of minimizing community transmission of the Coronavirus.

This created a new reality for those workers, because now that they’re working from home, they can’t just walk over to the help desk cubicle to make a casual request. They might not be able to do it by phone either because the help desk staff is also working from home, and they’re pretty busy right now just trying to maintain the status quo at most organizations.

Maintaining the status quo on its own is a pretty onerous task.

Ayehu’s customers, partners, and prospects have been telling us that IT Operations is already inundated with things like:

  • Application Issues
  • System Alerts
  • Outages
  • And of course the ever popular Password Resets

This represents just a fraction of the many incidents, requests, & projects that IT Operations is responsible for.

Now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of all that, IT has been tasked with this massive emergency project to start supporting most if not all people working remotely. It’s an absolute tsunami of work, and it’s further overwhelming IT Operations staff.

I think everyone can agree that this massive transition to remote working can be categorized as “unplanned work” for just about every IT Operations team.

It just so happens that last month, PagerDuty conducted a survey about the impact of unplanned work on IT Professionals. I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of the results in particular.

Nearly 1/3 of respondents, 31% have said they “considered leaving a job due to too much unplanned work”. That should be pretty startling to anyone in IT management, especially right now, because if 1/3 of your team is thinking about leaving due to unplanned work, what will that do to your IT operation?

This isn’t a hypothetical scenario either, because as it turns out, 21%, over one-fifth responded that they actually have left a job due to too much unplanned work! So again, ask yourself what would happen to your SLA’s, ticket queues, etc. if one-fifth of your IT professionals just got up & walked out? I’m guessing it would drastically complicate things even more than they already are.

During this pandemic, many of you have no doubt heard the term “Flattening The Curve”, which refers to slowing, not stopping, the number of sick people who have to go to the hospital for treatment. Flattening the Curve is all about minimizing the number of cases that doctors, nurses, & hospitals have to deal with simultaneously so that the healthcare system doesn’t collapse.

And flattening the curve, of course, is one of the main reasons so many organizations are justifying sending people home to work remotely.

Flattening the Curve for the Healthcare System

But how about “Flattening the Surge” for IT professionals so that service desks & other operational teams don’t buckle under the strain?

Just like the healthcare system, IT Operations has a capacity threshold too. If the # of daily incidents, requests, etc. come in too high & too fast, IT Operations might collapse. Remember what PagerDuty’s survey said your IT staff might do because of too much unplanned work?

The way to avoid that disaster, the way to pandemic-proof your service desk, is with automation for MS-Teams.

Flattening the Surge for IT Operations

Thanks to COVID-19 causing so many people to work remotely, the NATURE of work is changing. That change will almost certainly carry over once the pandemic ends, and the all-clear signal has been given.

I want to share with you what work might look like post-pandemic from the perspective of Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365. He recently said:

“It’s clear to me there will be a new normal…… We don’t see people going back to work and having it be all the same. There are different restrictions to society, there are new patterns in the way people work. There are societies that are thinking of A days and B days of who gets to go into the office and who works remote.”

So he believes there’s going to be a new normal, and that new normal involves a lot more remote work for people who, pre-pandemic, found themselves exclusively in corporate office environments.

One of the products Jared Spataro is responsible for is Microsoft Teams, and the market that MS-Teams is in is called Unified Communications. More recently that space has been referred to by Gartner as the Workstream Collaboration market.

According to Statista, Microsoft’s market share in the Workstream Collaboration space has been growing very steadily, but on March 5th, 2020, things took a dramatic turn. On that day, Jared Spataro, who we just heard from, announced that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft Teams would be made available to everyone FOR FREE as of March 10th, even if you didn’t have an Office 365 license!

What happened next was truly stunning. The worldwide number of daily active users for Microsoft Teams exploded from 32 million to 44 million very quickly. An increase of 12 million users, about a 37% jump in basically a matter of days.

That definitely caught the attention of Slack, their top competitor. Slack’s TOTAL WORLDWIDE user base is 12 million users! So with their announcement, Microsoft effectively added the equivalent of 1 Slack user base to their own.

Now just to be clear, here at Ayehu we love Slack. It was the first platform we built chatbots for, and we’ll continue building chatbots that enable automation for Slack because it’s a great platform. But when it comes to market share going forward, the writing’s on the wall, and at least in the near-term, this market is probably going to be dominated by Microsoft Teams.

The great news about that is that Microsoft Teams, like other chatbots, can help flatten the surge for IT professionals by diverting calls or tickets or work away from the Service Desk, and shifting that load to end-users for self-service. Combining Microsoft Teams with automation can do more than reduce work volume though, it can also slash MTTR by accelerating resolutions of incidents & requests, liberate IT staff from doing tedious work & free them up for more important tasks, raise customer satisfaction ratings (an increasingly critical KPI for IT Operations), and last but not least reduce costs.

Let’s drill down a bit deeper on that last value proposition, specifically as it’s often measured by service desks – Cost Per Ticket.

There’s a general industry figure out there, published by Jeff Rumburg of MetricNet, an IT research & advisory practice, that the average cost of an L1 service desk ticket is $20.

However, if you turn any given service request into a self-help or self-service function with a chatbot like MS-Teams, you can drive that cost down by 80% to just $4 per L1 ticket. 80%!

If you’re a CIO, CTO, or any senior IT Executive, and someone tells you there’s a way to reduce your single biggest expenditure on IT Support by 80%, without reducing service effectiveness (in fact, possibly speeding it up), wouldn’t you want to learn more?

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG with all its cool new features & ability to add automation to MS-Teams, download your very own free 30-day full-version trial today.

Preparing Your Business for the “New Normal”

So much has changed over the past few months, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to its collective knees. Businesses in just about every industry have felt the sudden and devastating effects of what such a global crisis can do, both from a human health as well as an economic standpoint. And with a projected timeframe to exit of anywhere from six to 12 months, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is still but a faint glimmer of hope.

If there’s one positive that has come from this crisis, it’s that business leaders now have a better sense of what their organization can or cannot do. They’re also beginning to understand how they can expect to move forward once the dust settles and the economy finally opens again. And while we all look forward to getting back to normal, the reality is, the workplace as we once knew it may never be the same again.

New social behavior, added restrictions, travel precautions and such are forcing decision-makers to think about how to do more with less. Less complicated, less expensive, yet at the same time agile and effective. Just what will this “new normal” look like and how can businesses prepare? Let’s take a look.

Remote/digital will become a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Oftentimes we have to be forced out of our comfort zones before we can accept and embrace change in a positive, productive way. This can easily be said for the many organizations that were abruptly thrust into the world of remote work. Suddenly, business leaders found themselves scrambling to enable work-from-home capabilities in order to keep operations going and avoid, or at least limit, disruption as much as possible.

What many have discovered during this trying period, however, is that – provided it’s supported by the right policies and technologies – not only is remote work completely feasible, but it’s also a much more attractive option for the company’s bottom line. As a result, more business processes will likely permanently transition to fully digital.

This includes industries like remote medicine, remote shopping and delivery and remote physical fitness, as well as functional areas like marketing (move to online marketing and virtual events), sales (a fully digital sales cycle – from demo and remote installation/remote POC, to remote deployment without ever physically interacting with a customer) and yes, even IT…which brings us to our next point.

IT projects will continue (they have to!), but they will require re-prioritization. With time frames being compressed due to uncertainty, IT managers will need to find ways to break projects down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Because they don’t know what type of budget they will have to work with in three to six months, they must focus on tasks that can be completed in shorter time frames – say, three months, or three to four weeks at a time. 

Automation is the key to the future of work.

The organizations that will be leaders in this “new normal” are the ones that will quickly make the needed changes to adapt to these remote work/WFH situations – and automation can play a key role in this adoption.

Specifically, automation can accelerate the transition, enabling businesses to retain knowledge even when people aren’t available. It also enables ITOps – even those that no longer operate on a single on premise infrastructure – to keep the lights on while simultaneously becoming more efficient by doing more with fewer people on-site. Likewise, IT projects can more easily be broken down into milestones with automation either augmenting or handling them entirely autonomously.

With the right automated platform, organizations will be able to accelerate out of this situation and position themselves stronger and even more effective on the other side. The good news is, this technology is easy to access and can be ramped up in less than one day. If you are a business leader or key decision-maker and you’re trying to figure out how to prepare your organization for the future of work – the “new normal” – Ayehu can become your saving grace.

Get started today by downloading your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG.

3 Steps to Get Your Organization Intelligent-Automation-Ready

Over the past several years, intelligent automation has begun to revolutionize the workplace, facilitating digital transformation and enabling forward-thinking organizations to position themselves on the right side of the future of work. Getting to this point, however, isn’t something that happens overnight. Without the right approach, companies could easily be missing out on the tremendous advantages intelligent automation has in store. So, what’s holding other companies back?

Relatively speaking, the primary obstacle is simple. Many IT decision-makers approach implementation by attempting to merely automate existing processes. What they should be doing instead is changing their entire mindset. In order to do this, there are three key things that must be done, as follows.

Reconsider processes and workflows from start to finish.

Understand that deploying intelligent automation isn’t just a one-off project for the IT department. Rather, it should be an aggregate change that occurs across and throughout the entire enterprise. In order to implement automation at scale, buy-in is needed in every facet of the business.

Incorporating intelligent automation presents an opportunity for leaders and teams to reimagine what they’re trying to accomplish and completely redesign their workflows and processes. Only by starting from the foundation and working automation into each step of the process will the optimal level of efficiency be achieved.

We’d even go so far as to recommend building automated processes first and then working humans into the mix as needed. The actual need for human intervention – or lack thereof – will be quite surprising.

Pose the right questions, right from the beginning.

The right questions can help guide and facilitate the development of a strong, effective and long-term intelligent automation strategy. The problem is, many leaders simply don’t know what those “right questions” happen to be.

If you are among them, we suggest you start by thinking critically about which workflows and processes you currently have in place, and – more importantly – which of those processes and workflows would be best suited for artificial intelligence.

Still having trouble? Flip the switch and instead, start by asking what tasks are intelligent bots not capable of doing? This may help you more clearly pinpoint which processes still require some level of human mediation. The tasks remaining can then be shifted to automation.

It’s also pivotal to keep specific goals in mind when incorporating intelligent automation into the fold. Specifically, asking what you want this technology to help you accomplish should help you identify which pain points for which an automated solution could provide the most value.

Seek opportunities to meld the digital and human elements of your workforce.

At the end of the day, intelligent automation is most successful when it’s implemented with the goal of creating the best possible experience for everyone. Again – it’s imperative that the mindset evolve from automation being an “IT project” to something that permeates the entire organization.

This begins with culture, and changing a company’s culture starts at the top. Not only must the “powers that be” be fully committed to intelligent automation adoption, but they must proactively and consistently send the message that both humans and robots can cohesively work together in a connected ecosystem that benefits both the employee as well as the organization as a whole.

Conclusion

Successful digital transformation occurs when an organization is able to strengthen and grow by empowering its workforce to trust and depend on advanced technology. Without question, intelligent automation is poised to become the foundation of this digitized future. By rethinking how automation fits into the big picture, posing the right questions and merging the digital/human experience, you’ll dramatically improve the chances of a smooth and profitable transition.

Ready to jump in and test the waters? Get up to speed with intelligent automation within minutes by taking Ayehu for a free, 30-day test drive.

COVID-19 Has Business Booming for Some – Here’s How to Scale Quickly with Automated Onboarding

With businesses being forced to close down and unemployment skyrocketing into the hundreds of millions, it’s hard to fathom that some organizations aren’t only surviving during these challenging times, but are actually thriving. For instance, healthcare and biotech companies, as well as streaming service and remote learning providers (just to name a few), aren’t just staying afloat. Many of them are actually experiencing sudden growth, which means they’re hiring.

The challenging part that comes into play here, however, is that most of this scaling in is happening virtually, including the onboarding process. New employees must be quickly and securely provisioned and brought up to speed, which means IT teams are being bogged down with more time-consuming processes, like setting up users and permissions, managing access and controls and more. Thankfully, there’s a way to let technology handle most, if not all of the heavy lifting.

The secret weapon? Intelligent automation. With the right AI-powered automation platform, the entire onboarding process can be streamlined from start to finish, and all without the need for human intervention.

Benefits of Automated Employee Onboarding

For Companies:

  • Cost Savings – Automating the onboarding workflow eliminates the time-consumption and redundancy that plagues the traditional onboarding experience.
  • Time Savings – This benefit is two-fold, since it saves IT and HR employees the hassle of manual onboarding, freeing them up to focus their skills on more meaningful projects and also gets new employees up and running faster, so they can begin contributing right away.
  • Error Reduction – Intelligent automation incorporates the precision of a machine to the new-hire onboarding process. This thereby reduces the chance of error by a massive margin.
  • Enhanced Data Collection – When new-hire information is collected electronically via an automation platform, the entire process is much more efficient. It’s also more secure.
  • Improved Security – Onboarding involves the access and management of sensitive employee data. By transitioning this process from human to machine, organizations can ensure that all sensitive information remains confidential and securely out of reach.

For New Hires:

  • Streamlined Experience – The key to successful onboarding is making sure new employees receive the right kind of information at the right time. With automation, the entire process is optimally scheduled out, ensuring that new hires don’t begin their job feeling confused or overwhelmed.
  • Consistency – With manual onboarding, there’s always a risk that not every new employee will receive the same experience. Unfortunately, this means that while some enjoy a positive experience, others do not. Automation eliminates this risk.
  • Efficiency/Productivity – The faster a new team member is onboarded, the sooner he or she can begin contributing. Automated onboarding dramatically reduces the time it takes to get new hires up and running, which is better for everyone involved.
  • Empowerment – By bringing automation into the mix, new employees are immediately empowered to assist themselves through self-service options. Not only does this save them time, but it also creates a much more positive, stress-free experience right off the bat, which can contribute to retention long-term.

Employee onboarding is a necessary evil in the business world, but thankfully it doesn’t have to be a cumbersome process wrought with frustrating bottlenecks and costly errors. Best of all, it can be handled entirely remotely, something that’s absolutely critical in today’s volatile marketplace.

If your organization has been fortunate enough to experience success and growth during these challenging times, automated onboarding could be the puzzle piece you need to scale quickly, seamlessly and successfully. Take Ayehu for a test drive and experience it for yourself today!

Still not convinced? Learn how one of our customers leveraged automation to cut onboarding time by 80% AND saved more than $485,000 in the process!

5 Reasons to Make the Move from MSP to In-House IT

For decades, businesses have been turning to MSPs to handle their day to day IT needs. This outsourcing was something that many small to mid-sized companies were forced to do, since housing IT internally wasn’t always an option.

Thankfully, technological advances have made it possible for companies of any size to affordably manage IT operations in-house – and with the same efficiency and service levels as an MSP. And given the current state of events, with many off-shore IT service providers unable to fulfill their duties, there’s never been a better time to consider making a move.

We’ve written countless posts about how tools like intelligent automation can be leveraged by MSPs to save time and reduce costs. This same concept can be applied to internal IT departments as well. For small to mid-sized businesses that previously relied on external MSPs to essentially serve as their IT office, the reason was typically budget. It was simply more cost-effective to outsource IT rather than to manage it in-house. But with the ability to accurately measure the value of internal IT, more and more smaller companies are recognizing the benefits of keeping things on-site.

The answer to the age-old question of how an internal IT team can match the efficiency of a managed service provider lies in automation. When you are able to automate not only individual repetitive tasks, but entire complex workflows, suddenly the idea of running a busy IT operation doesn’t seem as overwhelming. You no longer face the need to hire more staff than you can afford, and those team members that you do employee will have the ability to focus on critical things that require a human touch, such as analyzing and developing business strategies for future success.

5 Reasons to Consider Moving IT In-House

While using MSPs is certainly not a bad option, there are a number of specific benefits that a business can realize by keeping IT in-house. These benefits include:

  • More Control – Outsourcing always requires giving up a certain amount of control. Keeping IT operations internal gives the business full control over all processes and procedures.
  • Flexibility – A quality intelligent automation platform provides flexibility and customization to each business’s unique pain points. That means that your internal IT can be designed specifically for the needs of your organization, unlike an MSP which can only adapt so much.
  • Higher Level of Security – It goes without saying that internal versus outsourced departments always provide a more secure atmosphere. IT operations for industries that deal with more sensitive information, such as the financial sector, benefit greatly from keeping all transactions in-house.
  • Saves Time – Internal IT operations eliminate the need to contact and rely on a third party for support requests, which can save time. The beauty of automation is that it is designed to make IT operations more efficient, so it is inherently a time-saver. Couple this with the fact that intelligent software is doing the heavy lifting, freeing up personnel to be available if and when an issue arises, and you’ve got a highly effective and efficient department that is able to maintain exceptional service levels.
  • Saves Money – Keeping IT internal saves money over time, since you will no longer need to incur the costs of outsourcing to an MSP.

Think your business is too small or lacks the resources to manage IT operations in-house? Think hiring an MSP is the only option? Think again. Scrambling to keep the lights on due to the recent worldwide health crisis? There IS a solution, and it’s easier and more affordable than you think.

With technological advances, namely the rise of intelligent automation, now organizations of any size have the ability to achieve the same operational efficiency with their in-house IT as they would with a Managed Service Provider.

Still not convinced? Take our Next Generation IT Automation platform for a test drive FREE for 30 days. Click here to claim your free trial.

Rule-Based vs. AI-Bots – What’s the Difference?

Rule-Based vs. AI-Bots – What’s the Difference?

Up until relatively recently, the only option end-users had for receiving IT support were phone calls, tickets or emails. Now, thanks to rapid iterations of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, IT departments are able to leverage the power of intelligent bots to offer round-the-clock, automated (read: agentless) support.

But not all bots are created equal. One of the biggest differentiators is whether they are rule-based or true AI. Understanding the key differences here will help organizations make more informed decisions when adopting a virtual support agent (VSA) model.

Rule-Based Bots

Rule-based chatbots are capable of answering end-user questions based upon a predefined set of rules that they have been programmed for. This isn’t to say they’re necessarily basic. In fact, with the right programming, rule-based bots can be built to be relatively complex (at least, to some degree). And because they are built on if/then conditions, they are much easier to train than AI bots, which means they can be implemented extremely quickly. That being said, they are far more cumbersome to maintain over time, as every new piece of information must be programmed as it’s needed.

Where these chatbots fall short, however, is in their inability to understand context and learn on their own. As such, there is often a disconnect between the end-user and the bot, which can lead to frustration and delays. For more complex issues, bots can hand over the conversation to a human agent who can provide a higher level of service and support. This means that rule-based bots cannot operate completely autonomously. They must rely on human intervention whenever anything outside of their database arises.

AI-Based Bots

While the human/computer interface of rule-based vs. AI bots is relatively the same, the major difference between the two technologies is their self-learning capabilities (or lack thereof). AI bots are programmed with machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) so that they can read and comprehend context and continuously learn and improve on their own. The key to success with AI bots is access to rich, relevant data.

While there is certainly an investment of time, resources and money upfront, AI-bots are generally much more cost-effective in the long run, because they require far less ongoing maintenance than rule-based bots. They are also more resource-efficient, since they can handle highly complex support needs without requiring any human input. This enables organizations to optimize their staff numbers, either trimming down or reallocating human resource to more meaningful, revenue-generating projects. Meanwhile, end-users receive the on-demand support they need, maximizing satisfaction levels.

Which Type of Bot is Right for You?

The best way to determine whether rule-based or AI bots are the right fit for your organization is to map out your needs. Generally speaking, AI-bots offer the most “bang for your buck,” because they can do everything a rule-based bot can do, along with much more complex and valuable functionality. This is especially important for IT operations. The good news is, you can experience AI bots in action free for a full 30 days. Simply download your trial of Ayehu NG today to get started.

How IT Automation Can Be an Insurance Policy for Organizations Relying on MSPS with India Operations

How IT Automation Can Be an Insurance Policy for Organizations Relying on MSPS with India Operations

The recent health crisis has brought to light the unpreparedness of many organizations in terms of ability to pivot and adapt to a completely new way of working. Much of the emphasis has been placed on helping companies make the transition to work-from-home as quickly and seamlessly as possible. But one area of concern that’s not be talked about nearly as much is the situation for businesses who have completely or largely outsourced their IT operations to MSPs.

The reality is, a significant number of organizations operate under a cost-saving MSP business model that relies either partially or entirely on off-shore labor, and the majority of that labor is based out of India. Unfortunately, India is positioned to bear the brunt of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the entire country has been placed under a 3-week lockdown, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking all 1.3 billion Indians to stay home for 21 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

This presents a new set of problems to organizations who rely on India-based MSPs to manage their IT operations because, unlike many other countries, the ability to work remotely is simply not a possibility in India. Most homes lack internet connectivity and those that do have access often struggle with little to no bandwidth. There’s also the logistical issue of a lack of available equipment, such as laptops and servers. And, of course, there is the red tape of regulations and security to consider, with many IT service providers requiring permission for employees to work with sensitive data outside the office.

As a result of all of this, many global organizations are now scrambling to develop contingency plans that will help them stay operational. And with experts predicting that this situation may last well beyond the initial 3-week timeframe, perhaps even into the summer months, the need to respond effectively is quite urgent. The good news is, there is a viable solution, and one that is not only straightforward and affordable, but can be implemented and scaled up within as little as an hour.

IT process automation breaks the mold by enabling organizations to bring IT operations back in-house without having to hire and pay a full tech team. Systems and applications can be fully monitored 24/7/365, detected issues can be automatically addressed (or escalated to the appropriate personnel if necessary) and end-users can manage a significant portion of their IT support needs through virtual agents, often without the need for any human intervention.

Automation of IT processes can also serve as an “insurance policy” for the future, allowing you to not only weather the immediate storm, but eventually, after COVID-19 is contained, help facilitate the transition to a work situation in which companies are not so dependent on human labor. This will make situations like this much more manageable. Experts at Gartner are urging companies large and small – and even those that aren’t being impacted by India’s lockdown – to consider investing in automation.

“To move beyond tactical approaches to automation, I&O leaders should rethink how and where they can apply automation skills inside an organization.”- Chris Saunderson “Start Building Your Automation Team Now”, 13 August 2019.

Without question, the coronavirus crisis has all but crippled the world economy, leaving businesses in almost every industry struggling to stay afloat. And while we know that the current situation will eventually resolve, organizations must take proactive measures in the interim if they want to emerge victorious on the other side. IT process automation can serve as the bridge during these uncertain times and ultimately provide protection against such catastrophes in the future.

Why wait? Get started with IT automation today by downloading your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG.

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Workforce

Best Practices for Running a Remote Operation

The latest health crisis has forced many organizations into making the transition to remote work much more urgently than many would have liked. As such, a scramble to manage the logistics, like what kind of equipment will be needed, how to provision remote workers and how to maintain maximum data security have become the focus. What’s not being talked about nearly as much, but is equally as important, is how leaders who are used to managing staff in-person must adjust their approach in order to make the transition as seamless and undisruptive as possible.

Be intentional about individualization.

Not every employee is motivated or driven by the same things. Some may work best when given autonomy while others may require more hands-on leadership. Under normal circumstances, focusing on the unique needs and preferences of each employee is strongly recommended. When managing from a distance, this becomes even more critical. Managers must take the time to determine the circumstances and conditions under which each individual employee will perform at his or her best. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to remote work simply won’t cut it.

Set clear expectations right from the start.

Did you know that nearly half of all employees in the U.S. do not know what’s expected of them? Add remote work into the mix, and things could go off the rails pretty quick. To mitigate this risk, remote managers need to set crystal clear expectations with each and every employee. Specifically, employees should know exactly what the work entails, what the quality of that work should be and precisely when it is due. There should be no ambiguity whatsoever.

Arm them with everything they need.

You can’t simply hand out tasks and expect your team to perform them if they don’t have the equipment, information, guidance and support they need to carry out those tasks successfully. This is the case in an on-site operation, but even more so in a remote working environment, where people can tend to feel isolated. Implement technology that facilitates collaboration. Provide self-service options, like virtual support agents, so remote workers can receive the support they need on-demand. And make sure leadership is available to answer questions, provide feedback and offer guidance as needed.

Communicate openly and often.

One of the biggest challenges of working remotely, as mentioned earlier, is the feeling of isolation that comes along with it. This is magnified for employees who are accustomed to working on-site, where colleagues and managers are present in the flesh. Understand that managing a remote team may require more frequent communication, whether it be team meetings or one-on-one sessions (ideally, a combination of both). The key is emphasizing relationships, which are more challenging to forge from a distance.

Be supportive of front-line management.

Executive leadership needs to recognize that front-line managers are suddenly being forced to adapt to an entirely new way of working, and practically overnight. It’s an adjustment that brings with it a unique set of concerns that must be taken into consideration. For example, some managers may worry that they’ll be held accountable for disruptions to workflow that they have no control over. Others may find it difficult to trust employees that they cannot physically see working. Support and guidance – practical and emotional – is needed to make this transition as painless for managers as possible.

A Look Ahead…

A recent Gallup study found that 43% of employees in the U.S. are already working remotely to some degree. Thanks to recent circumstances, that number just skyrocketed. And although there will certainly be some growing pains, there’s a significant chance that once the dust settles and life returns to normal once again, far fewer employees will actually return to the office. By learning how to manage a remote operation now, you’ll position your organization for a much smoother ride, both today as well as in the future.

Click here to find out how Ayehu is helping organizations across the globe make the transition to remote working.